The effectiveness of EU Special Protection Areas (SPAs) to protect birds of conservation concern

The Natura 2000 system of protected areas in the European Union is the largest coherent network of protected areas in the world. It consists of Special Protection Areas (SPAs) aimed at the in-situ conservation of birds, and Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) that were designed to improve habitats and populations of other threatened taxa. While the general effectiveness of SPAs and SACs in conserving biodiversity has been demonstrated, it is largely unclear how SPA designation and site management affect bird population trends and their conservation status on different spatial scales. This is partly due to a lack of long-term monitoring data for rarer species, and due to a lack of documentation of site management.
In this larger collaborative project with Dachverband Deutscher Avifaunisten (DDA), we combine bird monitoring data with remotely sensed land-cover and land-use information to develop hypotheses for successes and failures of protected areas to effectively contribute to bird conservation. We also analyze citizen science data (assembled in the data base with innovative statistical methods to compare population trends in- and outside of SPA and evaluate spatial data sources regarding their suitability to support habitat and bird monitoring. Finally, we contribute to developing monitoring methods for DDA’s “Monitoring of rare bird species”.

This project is funded by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN).

Involved researchers
Femke Pflüger, Claudia Frank, Johannes Kamp